Election setback for Merkel
Berlin (Reuters): Germany's Social Democrats (SPD) beat Angela Merkel's conservatives in a vote in the northern state of Lower Saxony on Sunday in a setback to the chancellor as she prepares for tricky three-way coalition talks at the national level this week.
The SPD, which has governed the swing state home to carmaker Volkswagen with the Greens for four years, won 37.5 per cent, well up from 32.6 per cent in the last election there in 2013, according to an exit poll from infratest dimap.
Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) fetched 35 per cent of the vote in the rich agricultural state, down from 36 per cent in the last election there in 2013.
The environmentalist Greens, currently junior coalition partner to the SPD in Lower Saxony, won 8.5 per cent. The liberal Free Democrats won 7 per cent.